Weather idioms – Online English Lessons

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Here in the UK we have a reputation for being obsessed with the weather – and it’s true, we do love to talk about the weather 🙂

One of the reasons for this is that our weather is unpredictable and it changes frequently. So perhaps it’s not surprising that we have so many idioms and idiomatic expressions relating to the weather!

Here are some examples of weather-related idioms in English…


under the weather – to be or feel under the weather is to be or feel ill.


1. Paul has gone to bed because he’s feeling a bit under the weather.

2. I’m feeling under the weather – I think I’ve caught John’s cold.

fair-weather friend – a fair-weather friend is someone who is your friend when things are going well for you, and who stops being your friend when you are having problems.


When I lost my job and my home he didn’t want to see me: he was a fair-weather friend


as right as rain – to feel as right as rain is to feel completely well again. This expression is often used as a reassurance.


1. He had an operation on his back last month; but he’s as right as rain now.

2. I don’t feel well but I’m sure I’ll be as right as rain for tomorrow’s meeting.

3. She tucked her son up in bed and told him he’d feel as right as rain in the morning.

raining cats and dogs – if it is raining cats and dogs it is raining very heavily.


Don’t forget your umbrella: it’s raining cats and dogs!

come rain or shine – come rain or shine means whatever happens or whatever the weather.


1. I’ll be there for you, come rain or shine.

2. I take my dog for a walk every day, come rain or shine. (I take my dog for a walk every day, whatever the weather)

3. Come rain or shine I’m going to pass my English exam. (No matter what happens I’m going to pass my English exam)

bucket down (phrasal verb) – to bucket down is to rain very heavily.

Informal UK English.


It’s bucketing down; don’t forget your umbrella.

take a rain check (on something) – if you take a rain check on something you postpone it until another time.

Informal English.


1. Can I take a rain check?

2. Can I take a rain check on our dinner date? I have to work late tonight

save for a rainy day – to save for a rainy day is to save something (especially money) for a time in the future when it might be needed unexpectedly.


1. I’m saving £50 a month for a rainy day.

2. News headline: Fewer Britons saving for a rainy day.

it never rains but it pours – this proverb means that when one bad thing happens, other bad things will inevitably happen at the same time or quickly one after the other.


I’ve had a horrible week. First I locked myself out of my house, then my car broke down, and today I fell over on my way to work. It never rains but it pours!


snowed under – to be snowed under is to have too much work to do.


1. She is totallysnowed under at work.

2. We’re snowed under at work because two members of staff are on holiday.


break the ice – to break the ice is to do or say something that makes people feel less shy, nervous or embarrassed, and more relaxed, in a social setting.


1. We played party games to help break the ice!

2. He broke the ice by telling a funny story about his dog.

3. Sometimes it can be hard to break the ice when you meet someone new.

put on ice – to put something on ice is delay or postpone it.


1. We’ve put the project on ice until we have enough money to pay for it.

2. The new housing development has been put on ice because the building company are bankrupt. A new company will take over in six months time.

the tip of the iceberg – if something is the tip of the iceberg it is only a small, easily visible, part of a problem – there is much more to the problem than is immediately obvious.


I’ve tidied the kitchen but it’s just the tip of the iceberg – the rest of the house is a mess.


a ray of hope – if there is a ray of hope there is a small chance that something positive will happen. The negative form, not a ray of hope, is often used


News headline: New research is a ray of hope for cancer treatment.


under a cloud – if someone is under a cloud they are suspected of having done something wrong.


1. She left the company under a cloud after some money went missing.

2. He was suspected of taking bribes and resigned under a cloud.

on cloud nine – if you are on cloud nine you are extremely happy.

Example of use:

He was on cloud nine after she agreed to marry him.

have one’s head in the clouds – to have one’s head in the clouds is to be out of touch with reality: to have ideas and thoughts that are not sensible or practical.


He has his head in the clouds if he thinks he’s going to get that promotion.

every cloud has a silver lining -the proverb every cloud has a silver lining means that something good always comes from something bad, and there is always a reason to hope, even in the worst situations.

People often use this expression to try and cheer up someone who is having a difficult time.

Example of use:

I lost my job last week, but every cloud has a silver lining and now I have time to visit my family in Australia!

a cloud on the horizon – a cloud on the horizon is a problem that is likely to happen in the future


The only cloud on the horizon is my English exam!


To not have the foggiest (idea) is to not know or understand something at all.


1. I haven’t the foggiest idea what you’re talking about.

2. They haven’t the foggiest idea what it’s like to be poor.

3. He thinks he’s famous, but no one has the foggiest who he is.

4. She didn’t have the foggiest idea what her English teacher was talking about!


sail close to the wind – to sail close to the wind is to do something that is dangerous or only just legal or socially acceptable.


1. He sailed close to the wind with his jokes about his mother-in-law.

2. He has a reputation for sailing close to the wind with his business deals.

put the wind up someone – to put the wind up someone is to worry or frighten someone.

To get the wind up is to become worried or frightened.

UK and Australian informal English.


1. Put the wind up him and tell him you’ll take him to court if he doesn’t pay you the money he owes you.

2. They got the wind up when the police stopped their car.

get wind of – to get wind of something is to find out about something, usually accidentally or from a confidential source.


1. Residents got wind of plans for a new mobile phone mast in their street.

2. The police got wind of a fight between rival footbal suporters.

3. We got wind of the sale of the business a week before it was formally announced.

there’s something in the wind – if there’s something in the wind, it means one suspects that something important or significant is about to happen.


They’ve been having private meetings and secret phone calls all week. There’s something in the wind.

a windfall – a windfall is a sum of money that you win or receive from someone unexpectedly.

A windfall is also a fruit blown down from a tree by the wind.


Our football club received a £5000 windfall from a local business woman.

a windbag – a windbag is someone who talks a lot but says nothing of any importance.


Your neighbour is a total windbag – doesn’t he ever stop talking?!

long-winded – if talking or writing is long-winded it has too many words and is tediously long.


1. The father of the bride’s speech was so long-winded I nearly fell asleep!

2. Aleja: What do you think of my English essay?

    Marco: It’s a bit long-winded.


the calm before the storm – the calm before the storm is a quiet or peaceful period just before a period of great activity, excitement or arguments.


She sat down with a cup of tea before the children came home from school, and enjoyed the calm before the storm

a storm in a teacup is a big fuss made about something of little importance.


They had a big argument yesterday, but it was just a storm in a teacup and everything is OK now.

have a face like thunder – to have a face like thunder is to look very angry.


My father had a face like thunder when he saw the broken window.

like greased lightning or like a streak of lightning – extremely fast.

Informal English.

Usain Bolt ran around the track like a streak of lightning. I’ve never seen anyone run so fast!


spring clean – to spring-clean a place is to thoroughly clean it, especially in spring.

In the northern hemisphere, spring is the months of March, April and May.

People sometimes use the expression spring-clean when they are thoroughly cleaning their home at other times of the year.


We’re spring-cleaning the house today.

Indian summer – an Indian summer is a period of warm sunny weather in late autumn or early winter in the Northern Hemisphere, usually occurring after a period of cold or frosty weather.

An Indian summer is also a time of great happiness or success that happens late in a person’s life or career.


1. July, August and September have been cold and wet, so we’re hoping for an Indian summer this year.

2. The once-famous actor enjoyed an Indian summer in his career when he starred in a new film.

Do you know any more English idioms that mention the weather?

Do you have similar idioms in your native language?